Wednesday, July 22, 2009

W/S August Dialogue: Italy and Nuova Mobilità

The idea of taking a central theme for an entire month of focused collaborative dialogue is working out quite nicely with the choice of carsharing as our July topic showing the way. With not quite two weeks left to "complete" this first series of exchanges, we are now gearing up for the rest of the year. Next stop on World Streets 2009: Italy and Nuova Mobilità. Benvenuti a tutti.

Here is the provisional list of topics to which we propose to give particular attention in the monthly focus sessions over the remainder of this year - subject to your feedback and advisory comments.

1. New mobility in Italy (August)
2. Sustainable transport in Africa: What next? (Sept.)
3. Public Bicycle Systems: World developments and planning (October)
4. Climate emergency: The role sustainable transport (November)
5. Women in Transport: Necessary pattern breaks (Dec.)

Other topics waiting in the wings for 2010: quite a long list at the top of which, again subject to your ideas and feedback, are: China, Green shared taxis, BRT, planning for the uban poor, and new mobility strategies for rural and suburban areas.

World Streets will of course be publishing day after day interesting and useful articles on all these topics and many others as outstanding projects and topics are brought to our attention by our Sentinels and other international collaborators. None of us can afford to wait; the climate emergency demands immediate and sharp action. Which requires information and then knowledge. And that is where World Streets comes in.

Next stop on World Streets: Italy and Nuova Mobilità.

The reasons for giving this collaborative Italian project early priority are three-fold: (a) Its usefulness to fill a gap as a trusted neutral Italian language source with one-click links to information and perspective on the full range of leading new mobility developments worldwide. (b) Our good fortune in finding an Italian team willing to work with us on a volunteer basis for the half year or so it is going to take to get it off the ground. And finally (c) the way in which we hope that, in time and with work, the Italian project will develop into a first-cut technical and organizational template ready to aid other language/country versions to follow in the year ahead.

1. New Mobility for Italian readers

Italy provides an interesting and in many ways quite typical example of how the diverse strands that we call sustainable transport or new mobility are (or are not) being woven together to create better transport and better cities within a country or language area. Now as you will be seeing, the new mobility concept is in fact gradually taking hold in Italy, but it is still very much in a minority position and when implemented for the most part occurs on a project by project basis -- and only here and there with a broader unifying strategy. On this last score there is still plenty of room for progress. (But to be perfectly frank, there are few places in the world which have thus far really started to put all the pieces together.)

Italy has a strong claim for immediate treatment on the grounds that we have had the good fortune to collaborate there with Italian colleagues lead by Enrico Bonfatti who showed up fully bilingual, understanding the underlying concepts and ready to get to work on them. Over the last two months we have worked with them day by day to lay a base for the first World Streets’ spin-off, Nuova Mobilità, which you can now visit, work with and profit from at

Nuova Mobilità has two functions within Italy:

Window on sustainable transport in the world:
First, to provide a window on the world of new mobility for those Italian readers who are more comfortable working in their own language. To do this, the editorial team selects daily articles from World Streets and other sources which they feel will be of particular interest to the Italian reader. They then both translate and adapt them for the Italian context, with adjustments and contextual information to make them more informative for the Italian reader in search of new ideas, leads and approaches.

Window on sustainable transport in Italy:
But Nuova Mobilità also has an important “internal” function within Italy as well, namely that of providing a central information and exchange point for outstanding projects and programs, and problems and barriers inhibiting change, that are going on in various cities and parts of the peninsula. There are a number of programs and web sites already active in the sector in various places, but most of these focus on a specific problem or approach -- for example cycling, public transport, carsharing, school transport, climate issues, environmental concerns more generally, for specific cities, etc.-- Nuova Mobilità can serve as a valuable clearing house function, with its global/local orientation.

Editorial independence:
Like World Streets, Nuova Mobilità retains complete independence in terms of editorial content and the views expressed. Moreover, the program is informed by a consistent set of guiding principles which you will find spelled out in the Mission Statement.

2. Nuova Mobilità: Template for future country/language editions:

One of the main potential contributions of Nuova Mobilità is that it is put before you not as a plan or a promise, but as an operational working entity already in place and there to serve as a pioneer and concrete example for other country/language editions. Of course it can be improved in many ways, including technically, and that is part of the task of both the Italian team and the collaborators at World Streets. But Nuova Mobilità exists, it is there, it works, and it is already in place to perform valuable functions.

It is our view that despite the enormous reach of the internet and the availability of ever-better (and free) machine translation services, native language coverage is needed by many people in many places. The reality is that it is not all that easy reading every day in a second or third language. Most of us do best working in our mother tongue. The task of full and rapid comprehension of a fair body of materials that come in day after day, already difficult enough for most topics, becomes even more challenging in a new area such as this which continuously brings in many new, less familiar concepts, and along with them a new and fast-evolving vocabulary, thus adding yet another level of complexity to the challenge of understanding what is really going on.

Thus it is our firm intention to find other language/country partners to work with them to build on the Italian example which can be exported in its entirety to serve as a sort of first-stage template for future language/country editions.

To this end, we are already in preliminary discussion with eventual Spanish, French and German language partners the possibility of building on this example with new dedicated websites and supporting programs in the months ahead. But the list of countries and languages of course need not end there. Nor should it.

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For more information on Nuova Mobilità:
Contact: Enrico Bonfatti,
Skype: nouva.mobilita
Mission statement:

To read Nuova Mobilità in bare bones but pretty workable machine translation into English:

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Now all that remains is for us to hear from you on these and possibly other candidate topics. For that you may wish to click the Comment link just below.

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